JERUSALEM: Fresh clashes erupted Thursday between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank, and another knife attack was reported, even as Israel imposed new security measures to halt the violence.An Israeli yeshiva student was in serious condition after being stabbed by a 15-year-old Arab assailant near a light rail station on a main road in East Jerusalem, Israeli medical and police officials said, adding that the alleged attacker has been arrested.It was the latest in a series of violent incidents this week, as tensions continue to grow, primarily over the East Jerusalem holy site revered by Muslims as the al-Aqsa mosque and by Jews as the Temple Mount.
The violence has left at least four Israelis and five Palestinians dead, and prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel a trip to Germany that had been scheduled for this week.On Thursday, in an effort to prevent a high-profile incident that could further inflame the situation, Netanyahu barred all Cabinet members and lawmakers from visiting the Jerusalem holy site. The mosque and golden Dome of the Rock mark the third holiest place in Islam. The site of two biblical temples, it is the most holy place in Judaism.Following outrage by some on the Israeli right, Netanyahu later clarified that the ban was extended to both Arab and Israeli lawmakers.
“This is a mistake,” said Cabinet member Uri Ariel, adding that Israel is caving in to Palestinian terror. Ariel supports an expanded Jewish presence on the Temple Mount. Arab Israeli lawmakers also are furious at having been included in the ban.”You can’t compare between the proprietors [Muslims] and infiltrators [Jews],” parliamentarian Ahmad Tibi told Israel Radio. He said Jewish parliamentarians “infiltrated and caused provocations, and because of them there is an escalation; not because of Arab parliamentarians and worshippers who are entering the Mosque of Al-Aqsa.”
Palestinians have accused Israelis of trying to restrict them from visiting and praying at the mosque, a charge Israel denies. Arab lawmakers have vowed to attend Friday prayers at the disputed site, a move that could further raise soaring tensions in Jerusalem.Netanyahu warned Israelis to be on “maximum alert” for more violence and trouble, after a particularly bloody day on Wednesday.
“Civilians are at the forefront of the war against terrorism and must also be on maximum alert,” Netanyahu said while visiting a police command center.”We have known worse times than this and we will also overcome this wave of terrorism with determination, responsibility and unity.”
On Wednesday, a Palestinian woman stabbed an Israeli man, who then shot and wounded her in Jerusalem’s Old City.Also Wednesday, a suspected Palestinian militant stabbed an Israeli soldier in southern Israel before other soldiers shot him dead. In central Israel, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli man at the entrance to a shopping mall. Witnesses said civilians subdued the attacker before police arrived.Palestinians have protested daily throughout the West Bank and in some Israeli towns, where groups of stone-throwing young people have clashed with Israeli police.
Fresh clashes broke out Thursday between protesters and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank town of Tekoa. A series of Israeli raids and arrests was also reported overnight near Nablus.
The violent attacks and protests do not appear to be coordinated by any particular group, but instead seem to be the work of individuals.
Tough talk from Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, along with continued Jewish settlement activity in Palestinian areas, have made the chances of a two-state peace deal remote, causing an outpouring of frustration by Palestinians.